Saturday, October 9, 2021

Kubernik ... Harvey Kubernik

Between the release (FINALLY!) of the brand new James Bond flick "No Time To Die"  (the 25th in the series ... and the last featuring Daniel Craig as Bond) and a new, comprehensive Bond soundtrack collection, "The Best Of Bond ... James Bond," frequent Forgotten Hits Contributor Harvey Kubernik sent us this piece celebrating BOTH new releases.

The character James Bond (played by a variety of different actors over the years, most notably, Craig, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton) has been entertaining movie-goers since 1962's debut, "Dr. No."  (Ian Flemming's books even longer than that ... the first was published in 1953!)

The Best Of Bond … James Bond

By Harvey Kubernik Copyright 2021


After numerous Covid-related delays, the 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die, from EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios (MGM) was released globally on September 30, 2021, in the UK through Universal Pictures International and in the US on October 8, 2021, from MGM via its United Artists releasing banner. 

The Best of Bond … James Bond will be available as a digital download and a 2CD set on October 8th as well, along with a 3-LP black vinyl, plus a limited-edition gold vinyl will be available exclusively via uDiscover Music and Sound of Vinyl.

Each compilation features celebrated theme songs from the longest-running film franchise and includes “No Time To Die” by Billie Eilish from No Time To Die, the 25th film in the series. Also now included will be Adele’s “Skyfall”  from Skyfall, the highest-grossing Bond film to date, and Sam Smith’s Spectre theme, “Writing’s On the Wall,” – Oscar® winners for Best Song in 2013 and 2016, respectively. 


In addition to Billie Eilish, Adele and Sam Smith, included is the signature instrumental “James Bond Theme” by The John Barry Orchestra, which remains one of the most recognizable themes from film. The collection also includes Dame Shirley Bassey (“Goldfinger,” “Diamonds Are Forever” and “Moonraker.”)  With “Goldfinger,” Bassey achieved her first Top 10 hit, reaching No. 8 on  The Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Adult Contemporary charts.


Bassey made her Oscars® debut at the 85th Academy Awards®, where she performed a spectacular rendition of “Goldfinger” as part of the telecast’s James Bond 50th Anniversary tribute, which was celebrated by UMe with vinyl reissues of long-out-of-print soundtracks to Dr. NoGoldfinger and Live And Let Die


Along with Louis Armstrong (“We Have All The Time In The World”), Nancy Sinatra (“You Only Live Twice”), Lulu (“The Man With The Golden Gun”), The Best Of Bond … James Bond also includes Paul McCartney & Wings (“Live And Let Die.”)  Written by Paul and Linda McCartney, performed by Paul McCartney & Wings and produced by former Beatles producer George Martin, the title theme song hit No. 2 on the chart, and it was nominated for both a GRAMMY® Award, for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) / Best Background Arrangement, and an Academy Award®, for Best Original Song. The single “Live And Let Die” became the first Bond theme song to win a GRAMMY® award (Best Pop Vocal Performance, 1973), and the song continues to be a highlight in McCartney’s live performances.


The Best Of Bond … James Bond also features Carly Simon (“Nobody Does It Better”), Tina Turner (“GoldenEye”), Duran Duran (“A View To A Kill”), Sheryl Crow (“Tomorrow Never Dies”), Madonna (“Die Another Day”) and Garbage (“The World Is Not Enough.”)  With the release of “Skyfall,” Rolling Stone compiled its Top 10 James Bond Theme Songs, all 10 of which, of course, appear on this set, including Tom Jones (“Thunderball”) and Matt Monro (“From Russia With Love.”)

All formats of The Best Of Bond…James Bond are available  here:




 1. James Bond Theme – The John Barry Orchestra

 2. From Russia With Love – Matt Monro

 3. Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey

 4. Thunderball – Tom Jones

 5. You Only Live Twice – Nancy Sinatra

 6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service – The John Barry Orchestra

 7. We Have All The Time In The World – Louis Armstrong

 8. Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey

 9. Live And Let Die – Paul McCartney & Wings

10. The Man With The Golden Gun – Lulu

11. Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon

12. Moonraker – Shirley Bassey

13. For Your Eyes Only – Sheena Easton

14. All Time High – Rita Coolidge



 1. A View To A Kill – Duran Duran

 2. The Living Daylights – A-Ha

 3. License To Kill – Gladys Knight

 4. GoldenEye – Tina Turner

 5. Tomorrow Never Dies – Sheryl Crow

 6. The World Is Not Enough – Garbage

 7. Die Another Day – Madonna

 8. You Know My Name – Chris Cornell

 9. Another Way To Die – Jack White & Alicia Keys

10. Skyfall – Adele

11. Writing's On The Wall – Sam Smith

12. No Time To Die – Billie Eilish


"The advent of the James Bond themes,” underscores author, deejay, university lecturer and the Rolling Stones record producer / manager 1963-1967, Andrew Loog Oldham, “was a big branding move forward, not only for the 007 franchise.

“Talents like arranger John Barry, songwriters Monty Norman and Don Black stepped out from late 50's TV pop shows, naff but successful movie themes and musicals into a hitherto inconceivable realm, suddenly we were world music and we all subliminally noted that fact. In so many ways just as Quant; Vidal Sassoon; Bailey, Donovan and Duffy preceded the Beatles as a pop brand in America and the world , so did the James Bond bag."   

“It’s ironic that in the early 60s the Beatles couldn’t secure a record deal because label executives gave the lame excuse that “guitar groups were passé,” while one of them most recognizable guitar themes dominated the silver screens world-wide,” reinforced Jan Alan Henderson, author of Whispers from the Canyons of Mountain Laurel.

"The James Bond Theme," written by Monty Norman, opened the first Bond film, Dr. No, starring Sean Connery, released in 1962. The memorable guitar was played by Vic Flick, who was the resident six-string maestro with the John Barry Seven. From Russia With Love followed, with the title track written by Lionel Bart. Two more Bond classics followed, Goldfinger and Thunderball. By that time, Bond was a cultural icon. The proof of that was the influence on the Beatles’ second film, HELP!”

"It's far too easy to forget the upper reaches of any Billboard Top LP's chart throughout the sixties was always chockfull of various soundtrack and show-tune long-players," recalls double-O'd soul Gary Pig Gold.

"Along with, of course, a Herb Alpert 12-incher or two to help hold the fort against each and every upstart young British Invader.

"But to my ears at least, said Anglo-pop stage had already been steadily set many a month before 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' or even 'Love Me Do' via John Barry and his iconic, instantly recognizable all these years later, fully shaken 'n' stirred Bond scores.

“From Dr. No practically clear through The Living Daylights, his brazen big-brass cut-to sultry string arrangements provided the ideal accompaniment to Connery (or whomsoever)'s multitude of vivid widescreen capers. Including those of the between-skirmish horizontal nature, you know what I mean.

“Yes, 'Bond - James Bond' was that rare character whose appeal stretched completely from the seductive one moment clear to swashbuckling the next, with only a fully loaded composer of Barry's calibre worthy of keeping pace upon the sound track.

“True, as indelible as their opening themes were, and are, each film's remaining 90-minutes-or-so continue to reveal magical, if often sometimes cleverly subtle musical moments, each perfectly complimentary to what our eye is simultaneously beholding.

"And, should you for a moment doubt the impact said scores immediately had on, to begin with, the British film industry, check out the George Martin Orchestra's Academy Award-nominated Hard Day's Night work for starters: Recognize Martin's six-string-driven melodies to each Lennon-McCartney adaptation throughout? A tip of the ol' fretboard towards Barry's guitarist of choice, Vic Flick, absolutely! Lessons Sir George apparently learned so well, and so quickly, that he himself was chosen to produce Shirley Bassey's Goldfinger theme, then returned nearly a decade later to score Live and Let Die all upon his own.

"Then, to bring things almost fully up-to-date, I still can't help but hear John Barry's 'You Only Live Twice' whenever I turn the Beach Boys' 'That's Why God Made The Radio' on. Or so it seems..."

Ironically, in 1962, Beach Boy Brian Wilson wrote and recorded the instrumental “Pet Sounds,” submitted for the James Bond movie, Dr. No.  In a 2007 interview with me, Brian commented on his soundtrack effort ...

It got turned down, Harvey,” lamented Brian. “They turned it down! They turned the damn thing down. ‘We don’t have any interest in that song.’  I’m gonna put it on the Pet Sounds album. That’s why it went on Pet Sounds. The James Bond people turned it down. And when we play the ‘Pet Sounds’  instrumental on stage now, I turn around and face my band and take the piece in.” 

I have played a handful of James Bond themes in my radio career,” proudly admits SiriusXM deejay, Rodney Bingenheimer. “I love Nancy Sinatra’s ‘You Only Live Twice’ and Shirley Bassey’s ‘Goldfinger.’ In September, I programmed Lulu’s ‘The Man with the Golden Gun.’”  

During 2021, I interviewed Nancy Sinatra about her recording of the Bond theme “You Only Live Twice.” She did the recording in London at CTS studios in May, 1967, with producer / composer John Barry. Leslie Bricusse penned the lyrics.  

“Cubby Broccoli [the producer] had requested that I do the title song for the movie. I felt it was a huge stretch for me and I suggested they call Shirley Bassey back in (laughs) who had sung ‘Goldfinger.’ They wanted me to do it.

“So I went to London. We did the initial session with Leslie Bricusse in the booth and John Barry conducting the huge, pretty much symphonic orchestra. I definitely liked singing with the orchestra. And John wisely said to me after seeing me struggling, ‘Would you like me to record the track and we’ll do your vocals later?’ And I said, ‘Oh yes, please.’ And that is what we did. That was such a relief.  

“Later, I found out what they did was they edited different parts of the recording, the overdub sessions, so they could actually have a complete take, because vocally I was just all over the place. I was right about not being the right person to sing that thing. But I’m not complaining. It did very well.

“Later, Barton [Lee Hazelwood] my producer then did a change to try and make a chart record out of it and he knew that the philharmonic sound was not gonna get it. So he brought in the Wrecking Crew and we re-recorded the song with a more rock ‘n’ roll guitar-based feel to it and it did make the charts.” 

“When people actually went to theatres for same, from 1962 onward, James Bond films were the go-to movies for young dates,” suggests photographer and writer, Heather Harris.

“There always was enough sexy innuendo provocation for young hormones (even as young women shrugged off the ‘Oh, please!' tawdry moments between the "Oh, James!" nice endorphins,) and enough plot twists, global travelogues and interesting music for those not predisposed to seeking out action thrillers on their own. The films have constituted a perfect blend of universal all-inclusiveness from the United Kingdom and America, decades of gifts to the rest of the world.

“There now is a brilliant compilation of that last category, just the music. Even a cursory glance at the playlist shows even wider variety beyond just whomever were chart toppers of their respective eras. Artists that even us music snobs quite enjoy in the privacy of our homes, musicians like Louis Armstrong, Rita Coolidge, Garbage, Chris Cornell, Paul McCartney and Gladys Knight enliven the collection, for which the music brands the films as much as the characters. Upstart L.A. local success Billie Eilish represents the newest of the new. You don't just hold your breath for favorites like Nancy Sinatra's sublime ‘You Only Live Twice,’ it is all quite listenable. Now, if only the powers that be would assign a reggae theme song!”

“John Barry’s arrangement of the original famous James Bond theme was brilliantly augmented by Barry’s longtime guitarist of choice, the incomparable Vic Flick,” reflects Elliot Kendall, a film and music publicity and promotions executive. “

“So whenever you hear that riveting and immortal ‘62 James Bond guitar lick menacingly played on the lower strings (and picked close to the bridge), that’s Flick truly delivering in his element.

“I recall seeing Flick’s original guitar on display at The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Museum in Cleveland in 2005 — and being quite taken by the fact that it was a hollow-body electric (not a solid body, which we guitarists have come to expect the more aggressive, attack-style tone to originate from).

“The guitar that Flick used for that original Bond theme recording session was a Clifford Essex Paragon De Luxe (not exactly a Fender Strat or Tele, like we all may have expected.)  It was originally an acoustic instrument, but Flick fitted it with a DeArmond pick-up, converting it to an electric.

“In 2008, Flick wrote an intimate and compelling autobiography Vic Flick Guitarman: From James Bond to The Beatles and Beyond, detailing his adventures as a member of the John Barry Seven — and also covering his extensive anecdotes as a first-call British recording musician. Tales of zooming up and down his native England in a packed van for his gigs with the John Barry Seven only add to his credibility — and provide us with the soul of a man who later would create that indelible sound for all Bond enthusiasts to revel in.

“Who wouldn’t want to pick up a guitar after hearing that stunning sound, welded to dramatic, angular horn stabs and cinematic Cold War spy adventures…? An adventure in music beckoned - and budding guitarists all heard the call of Flick’s magical riffs, loud and clear - shaken, stirred and inspired to say the least.”

“Perhaps my favorite James Bond theme song is ‘You Only Live Twice,’ recorded by Nancy Sinatra,” volunteers multi-instrumentalist / songwriter and record producer Marvin Etzioni, formerly of Lone Justice, now in Thee Holy Brothers with Willie Aron.

Etzioni has penned tunes covered by Peter Case, Judy Collins, Lucinda Williams, Lisa Loeb, and the Williams Brothers.

Still can’t get enough James Bond audio delights?

May I tout two additional ‘You Only Live Twice’ renditions, courtesy of record producer Etzioni.

Due out on October 22nd on Etzioni’s Regional Records distributed digitally via Six Degrees is a forthcoming instrumental album Earthless from the Satellites Four.   

This studio outfit includes multi-instrumentalist Doug Wiselman, who has played with Lou Reed and Yoko Ono, and featured on “Sunday Morning” by Michael Stipe produced by Hal Wilner on the just issued tribute to Velvet Underground.

Drummer and percussionist Danny Frankel has backed Fiona Apple and Brian Eno, while guitarist / producer Casey Dolan has worked with Milo Binder and Three Day Wheely. 

There’s also a cool groove audio vocal Etzioni-produced offering of “You Only Live Twice” from Grammy winning singer Grey Delisle on her upcoming album of covers, Borrowed.

Grey Delisle is the number one voice over actor in the US. She can be heard on Star Wars and The Simpsons. Grey overdubbed her vocal on the instrumental version of the Satellites Four.    


We've had the pleasure of talking to Vic Flick numerous times over the years here in Forgotten Hits.  (He even autographed some copies of his book to give away to FH Readers.)

He has some fascinating tales about doing session work during the era that we here in The States refer to as The British Invasion.  (Of course, it was just "business as usual" for Vic back home in Jolly Ol' England!)

We've also done James Bond Tribute pieces before.  While putting together today's piece, I found this one from 2013 ...

Forgotten Hits: More Of Your Bond Memories and Comments (

And this one from a few days earlier ...

Forgotten Hits: Bond ... James Bond (

In fact, we even ran our OWN Top Ten Bond Songs List back in 2013, eight years prior to Rolling Stone Magazine taking a crack at it now.  (Our list was based on the actual chart performance of these songs, not personal favorites ... trust me, if THAT were the case, Duran Duran likely wouldn't have even made my Top Ten, much less topped the list!  lol)

Forgotten Hits: It's A "Shaken And Stirred" Sunday in Forgotten Hits! (

Vic tells a GREAT story about the recording session with Shirley Bassey for the "Goldfinger" record.  When it came time to belt out those powerful notes at the end of the song, Shirley was having some difficulty putting her full-blown gusto into belting things out to the degree she demanded of herself ...

So she simply removed her bra, let it all hang out and then nailed it to the perfection that she knew she was capable of.  Even 56 years later, it's still one of the most amazing performances ever committed to wax.  (kk)

Friday, October 8, 2021

A Forgotten Hits Exclusive Interview with Author Mark Bego and the star of his Latest Celebrity Bio, Freda Payne!!!



We've been telling you about Mark Bego's latest book (his 67th!!!), "Band Of Gold" (Yorkshire Publishing), a frank funny and fascinating look back at the life and times of “Band of Gold” singer FREDA PAYNE.  

While she is best known for the Number One hit song “Band of Gold” in 1970, she has been the star of several Broadway touring productions, and a popular fixture on television, stage, and the movies.

Film producers often use “Band of Gold” in their soundtrack albums (“Now and Then,” 1995, immediately comes to mind) and the song was most recently heard in Spike Lee’s latest movie, “Da Five Bloods.”  In 2021, Academy Award winning director Quentin Tarantino called Freda’s “Band of Gold” album one of his Top Ten favorite LPs of all time.  

Mark Bego has made a career out of celebrity bios and this book is no exception.  In “Band of Gold,” Payne and Bego delve into the singer’s enduring career ... working with the songwriting / producing trio of Holland - Dozier - Holland, as well as her work and relationships with such names as Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, The Supremes, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson, Sarah Vaughn, Bobby Darin, Jerry Lewis, Lena Horne, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Sammy Davis, Jr., Eddie Murphy, Edgar Bronfman Jr., Berry Gordy Jr., Natalie Cole, and Johnny Mathis.  And, that’s just the beginning!  

Freda tells how she was nearly signed to Motown Records by Berry Gordy, Jr.; was pursued by Duke Ellington; was fired by Pearl Bailey; and eventually rose to fame both on the Broadway stage, and on the record charts.  

The very-conversational memoir also features a foreword by the late-Mary Wilson, who knew both Freda and Mark Bego.  The book ... out officially on November 2nd ... is a compelling and intimate look at the behind-the-scenes world of show business. 

Thanks to a connection made with PR Guru David Salidor, who oversees both artists, we are proud to bring you both Mark Bego and Freda Payne today, who reveal their creative process for all our readers in this exclusive Forgotten Hits interview:

FH: How did you both meet?

Mark Bego (MB): Actually, the first time I met Freda, was in the 1970’s when I was the Nightlife Editor of CUE magazine in New York City, and Freda was performing at The Playboy Club in Manhattan.  She was headlining their nightclub room.

FH: Freda, although it may have seemed like it at the time to many of us uneducated fans who first discovered you when we fell in love with and bought the record "Band Of Gold," you were not an overnight success by any stretch.  What did it feel like to suddenly connect in such a big way when “Band of Gold” was a massive hit worldwide hit?

Freda Payne (FP):  It felt wonderful to finally have a huge international hit record of my own.  I had been in the record business for seven years before “Band Of Gold.”  Although I had recorded three separate albums for three different labels, I didn’t score a recognizable hit from any of them.  Finally, I had my big breakthrough, with Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland writing and producing the song.  With that one hit record, and my other recordings on Invictus, finally my career had a focal point. 

FH: Invictus Records ... tell us about that label and how you came to be on it.

FP:  Actually, I was sitting in the apartment I shared with a friend, when singer Tamiko Jones phoned me to tell me that she was sitting in her apartment with a friend of mine from Detroit.  It turned out to be Brian Holland, and he basically offered me a recording deal over the telephone.  He told me that Holland - Dozier - Holland had left Motown and started their own label.  The next thing I knew, I was in Detroit recording my first album, “Band of Gold” for Invictus Records.  

FH: And then after that came the follow-up hit, “Bring The Boys Home,” another Top Five Hit in 1971.

FP:  “Deeper and Deeper” and “Cherish What Is Dear To You (While It’s Near To You)” were the singles that followed “Band of Gold” ... and then came “Bring the Boys Home.”  It was included on my “Contact” album, which was nominated for a Grammy Award, and became the most successful album of my career.

[Ed Note:  You'll find Freda Payne's complete Hit List at the end of this piece - kk]

FH: Mark, you’ve done several books on female singers (Cher, Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt) ... What made Freda the next subject?

MB:  Well, to tell you the truth, we had been talking about it for a couple of years, and we had started it a couple of times.  Finally, after I did “Supreme Glamour” with Mary Wilson, it was Mary who encouraged me to make that my next book.  We had all been friends for a long time, and finally the right time presented itself.

Freda Payne, Mark Bego and Mary Wilson
(photo by David Salidor)

FH: Freda, you’ve had such a distinguished career – and now you’re doing a tribute show to Ella Fitzgerald … what are you most comfortable doing?

Freda:  After over 60 years in show business, I still love to get in front of an audience to sing my songs, and I am proud and thankful to say, “My career continues to grow and evolve.” Theater. Recordings. Movies. Concerts.  I am ready for them all, and I enjoy them all.

You can pick up a copy of this brand new book (out November 2nd) here:  

Amazon link:

And be sure to stay tuned for details as to how you can win an autographed copy of this brand new book!  (kk)


1970 - Band Of Gold (#1)

1970 - Deeper And Deeper (#18)

1971 - Cherish What Is Dear To You (#27)

1971 - Bring The Boys Home (#5)

1971 - You Brought The Joy (#29)

A Golden Memory From FH Reader Frank B ...

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Thursday This And That


Doing some research in Billboard on a new project and I ran across this article from May 18, 1963.  Thought you'd like it.

Hope you're well.

Bill Carroll


Interestingly enough, I have been doing some WLS research of my own … and have recently run across a number of Dick Biondi clips that I had forgotten I even had! 

With the new documentary nearing release, it’ll be interesting to see all that is included in this film.  (I know that several Forgotten Hits Readers made contributions to Pam’s memorabilia list!)  kk


More talk about the recently reissued 30th anniversary edition of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album cover art being changed … this time, from Dave Grohl himself …


As covered just about everywhere now, the original release featured young Spencer Elden’s dangling penis on the cover … and a recently filed lawsuit demanding damages has brought this whole controversy into public view again, particularly in light of the 30th anniversary edition.


Dave Grohl Hints Nirvana Nevermind Cover May Change -


After all the hype as well as the release of two brand new live album sets, Donald Fagen has decided to postpone the Steely Dan tour due to the increasing number of Covid cases happening right now.  (On Tuesday, the 2021 Covid-related death toll passed the incredible 2020 numbers … how can that even be???  And this with a vaccination available now?)  It certainly hasn’t been getting the publicity awarded the pandemic last year and I thought the numbers overall were down … and that even the people getting Covid were getting much milder cases of the disease … certainly not DYING from it!  And it keeps breeding stronger and stronger strands of the virus.  When does it end???)

Anyway, back to Donald Fagen …

In an announcement posted on the Steely Dan website, the official word is that Steely Dan will postpone their upcoming shows in Miami, Orlando, St Petersburg, Jacksonville, North Charleston, Charlotte, and Richmond. “The postponement comes out of an abundance of caution despite COVID-19 health and safety precautions in place.”  Plans now call for Fagen to resume the tour in Baltimore on 26 October.  (Not much of a postponement there then, if he’ll be doing shows again in less than three weeks!)

We’re hearing about more and more shows being postponed and rescheduled again … a sad, sad shame, but ultimately for the best in regards to the health of both these artists and the fans.  Expect more announcements like this to come.  (kk)

Meanwhile, former Foreigner lead vocalist Lou Gramm is back out on the road, touring with Asia (featuring John Payne), and both will be sharing the same back-up band.  (Gramm called it a career a couple years ago, announcing his retirement for the first time on stage at a show in Schenectady, New York … but now he says he misses being out on the road … and also has a new album to promote!)

You can read all about it (as well as an interview with Lou) here:

Why Lou Gramm Is Touring Again: Exclusive Interview (

From Diane Diekman's Country Music Newsletter, this story about a brand new album from Ray Stevens ...

Ain't Nothin' Funny Anymore is the title of the new Ray Stevens album, a 14-song collection of topical tunes about everything from the border crisis to quarantine, according to PEOPLE magazine. "I'm not going to let a bunch of people who consider themselves judges and politically correct tell me what to do," he says. "I'm way too old for that. I'm going to do what I want to do. I think it's perfectly legitimate to put out songs dealing with current events. If you agree or don't agree, that's your prerogative." 

Ray, 82, recently re-opened his Ray Stevens CabaRay Showroom, the Nashville dinner theater he willingly closed in the spring of 2020 because he wanted to help end the pandemic. COVID-19 claimed the lives of some of the industry's most respected names, including Charley Pride, Joe Diffie, and John Prine. Ray has had two vaccines and will receive the booster as soon as it is available. "Why would anyone politicize getting the vaccine?" he wonders. "There ain't nothing political about vaccines. It's not political to me. I got up this morning and ate breakfast. Is that political?" 

Ray can be found most Saturday nights at his CabaRay Showroom. He now performs his hits with a 20-piece orchestra. "I decided to blow it out," he says. "Nashville has some of the best musicians in the world."

I've always been a big admirer of Ray's work ... he's had a pretty remarkable career.  

When we went to Nashville a couple of years ago, I really wanted to check out his theater but there just wasn't enough time to see and do all of the things we wanted to do.  (Sounds like a return visit is due!)  So cool to see that he's back open again ... and still performing nearly every Saturday night at the age of 82!  (You know, it's funny ... Ray made his musical mark as a "funny man" ... but when he all of a sudden decided to "get serious," that effort earned him a #1 Pop Record.  Who can forget "Everything Is Beautiful"??? It topped the charts for a couple of weeks in early Summer, 1970!)  kk

Hi Kent,

I haven’t written in a while, but couldn’t let the death of Barry Ryan go without sharing something about him.

I know “Eloise” barely made a dent in the US at the time, but I was fortunate enough to hear it on WRKO out of Boston in late ’68.  It made it as high as #23 on their survey and then faded away.  I believe I only heard it a couple of times but went out and bought the single right away.  MGM Records. 

I knew nothing about him, but the song was this big bombastic affair that leads to a rave-up at the end and it blew me away.  Yeah, it may be over-produced with the big orchestra, but there’s nothing like it anywhere.  It’s kind of like “MacArthur’s Park,” only this is more energetic and not so silly.  This guy is crazy for Eloise!  He’s belting it out at the end like a wild banshee.

At over five minutes, it’s not surprising that US radio didn’t get behind this unknown singer.  I have since listened to other Ryan tunes including those with his brother Paul.  They were a pop act for many years in the UK. Then Paul stepped away to write and “Eloise” was his first that Barry recorded.  Much of their work might be termed a little shmaltzy today, but there were some great melodies and singing.  “Eloise” was an epic that should’ve made it bigger here.  (And how many times have we said that?!)

Jim Culveyhouse

I love it … to paraphrase, “It’s like ‘MacArthur Park’ … without the cake!”  lol

Paul and Barry Ryan were definitely more of a sensation back home in the UK …

As a duo, they hit Great Britain’s Top 40 five times between 1965 and 1967 … and then Barry did it again (often with Paul’s help as a songwriter) five more between 1968 and 1972.

Here in The States, “Eloise” was their biggest hit, topping out at #50 in Cash Box, but only reaching #86 in Billboard.


1965 – Don’t Bring Me Your Heartaches (#13)

1966 – Have Pity On The Boy (#18)

1966 – I Love Her  (#17)

1966 – I Love How You Love Me  (#21)

1967 – Keep It Out Of Sight (#30)


1968 – Eloise (#2)

1969 – Love Is Love (#25)

1969 – The Hunt (#34)

1970 – Kitsch (#37)

1972 – Can’t Let You Go (#32)

How can it POSSIBLY be a year already since Eddie Van Halen passed?!?!  Man, where does the time go ... especially when you're running around less than ever simply because you can't go where you'd like to go anymore!!!  That just blew me away earlier this week.  (kk)


Towards the end of today’s FH, you discussed the singer Laura Lee. Now there's a singer whose name I have not heard mentioned in a long, long time.

To be honest with you, I don't know that much about her. I do know that I only had one record by her that charted here in OKC back in 1967, that being DIRTY MAN on Chess. Again, I know virtually nothing about her.


“Dirty Man” was Laura’s first chart hit back in 1967, reaching #52 in Record World (but only #68 in Billboard.)  In all, she charted a dozen times, with “Women’s Love Rights” her biggest. (#20, 1971 / #36 Billboard)  I don’t see any of her records charting here in Chicago … which may be a bit surprising in hindsight, as Joel Whitburn’s book says she was born right here in Chicago, IL!  (kk)



I am with you on Women's Love Rights by singer Laura Lee (Newton and/or Rundless, according to Wikipedia.)  Never heard the song in 1971 on any radio station I listened to.

Laura Lee was born in Chicago in 1945, and grew up in Detroit. Like many soul singers, she started singing Gospel in the church before transitioning to Soul / R&B -- and her only Top 40 hit (on the pop chart) is Women's Love Rights, recorded for Hot Wax (the Holand, Dozier, Holland label).  The song just made it into the Top 10 on the Record World R&B chart in October, 1971, which is why it probably made it into the Top 40 on the pop charts.

Totally enjoy your (almost) daily tidbits on the music we grew up with.

Joe Cantello

Marietta, Ga

This is one of those baffling chart situations … how does a record make it all the way to #20 nationally when hardly anybody knows it???  I can’t believe it was airplay and sales that drove it there … not if nobody ever heard it!  (lol)  I’m sure you’re right … its R&B success probably helped to propel it up the pop charts … but this one just doesn’t make sense to me.  (Or that the song’s performance in Cash Box was enough to influence it to climb this high on The Super Chart, once you factor in the Billboard and Record World data.)  kk


Freda Payne (who’s got a new book to sell, written by our FH Buddy Mark Bego), will be appearing on Cousin Brucie’s WABC radio program this Saturday Night (October 9th)

According to PR Guru David Salidor …

The book is called Band of Gold (Yorkshire Publishing).  She'll also be talking about her current Ella Fitzgerald-tribute show, which she'll perform later this month at the Bucks County Playhouse in Pennsylvania and the NYC launch party for the book at The Cutting Room. 

And, you'll find an EXCLUSIVE Forgotten Hits Interview with both Freda Payne AND Mark Bego in tomorrow's edition of Forgotten Hits ... so please be sure to stop back for that!  (Who knows ... we may even have a free book give-away offer to tell you about!)  kk 

kk ...

Watch The Last Performance Of Charlie Watts With Rolling Stones | Society Of Rock ... I Can't Get No ---

Boy, what a way to go out!!!  In the pouring rain!!!  Still, a pretty cool clip, all things considered.  Thanks for sending, Frank!  (kk)

Olivia Newton-John gets the deluxe 40th Anniversary treatment when a special box set (two CD's and one DVD) of her "Physical" album is released later this month.
You can read more about it right here ...


Now here’s an interesting concept …

Gather up over 100 drummers … including Ringo Starr … and cut a brand new version The Beatles’ classic “Come Together” (now called “Drum Together” for the cause) to raise money for charity!

In addition to Starr, you’ll also find The E Street Band's Max Weinberg, Stewart Copeland of The Police, Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge), Steve Gadd, Steve Jordan, The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith, Matt Cameron of Pearl Jam, Mike Portnoy, Simon Kirke (Bad Company), Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden), Nic Collins (Phil’s son, now drumming and touring with Genesis), Keith Carlock, Vinnie Colaiuta and even 11 year old YouTube sensation Nandi Bushell!!!

Drum Together supports “WhyHunger,” a charity working to “end hunger and advance the human right to nutritious food” in the US and abroad.  You can donate to the cause here … Donate - WhyHunger


The ten minute clip presents not only a showcase for the multiple drummers (and other musicians) involved, but also offers up a VERY jazz-infused version of The Beatles’ #1 tune.  (kk)

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Reader Concert Review: MARILYN McCOO and BILLY DAVIS, JR.

September 30th at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Connecticut, Marilyn McCoo celebrated her 78th birthday with her 83 year-old husband Billy Davis Jr. 

In reality, the two principal members of the Fifth Dimension has double reasons to celebrate!

1.  The birthday of the former co-host of “Solid Gold from 1981-84


2.  Plus, the husband-wife duo were overjoyed to be singing in front of live audience after being stuck at home for over 18 months.


Early in the set, the two of them get right to the song that broke open their career in 1967, the ever so catchy Jimmy Webb penned chart topper “Up, Up and Away.”

Throughout their 75 minute set, they sprinkled in a handful of the 5th Dimension’s top tunes, although this fan had hoped they might drop in a few more!

The ones they addressed in a meaningful and well appreciated manner:

- Stoned Soul Picnic

- Wedding Bell Blues

- Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In

- Last Night I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All

- One Less Bell To Answer

I would have jumped-up in excitement to also hear such memories as:

- Sweet Blindness

- Never My Love

- Go Where You Wanna Go

- If I Could Reach You

They did, however, proudly sing,  in the original key, their first hit as a twosome in 1976, You Don’t Have To Be A Star (To Be in My Show).

Simply put, Marilyn and Billy are a class act.  They represent a tail end of show business that will be sorely missed in future decades.  They were backed by three very gifted female background singers and a five piece band that has toured with them for decades and rightfully so.  Together, you feel that a top notch Vegas show had come to Ridgefield, CT.

They were thrilled to share with their fans a couple of cuts off their new album release earlier this year:

“Blackbird: Lennon and McCartney Icons."

Early in the show, the ever smiling and personable Mr. Davis kicked into the Wings classic “Silly Love Songs” and the crowd loved it.

Later in the performance, Marilyn was dazzling with her interpretation of “Blackbird.”

Both selections from their current release were met by standing ovations and Billy and Marilyn couldn’t have been happier.

-- Tom Cuddy

Tom even sent us a few photos he was able to snap at the show ... in COLOR, as he mentioned ... of these two show-biz icons ...



Thanks, Tom ...

We were able to see Marilyn and Billy a few years back at The Arcada Theatre and loved the show.  (I remember thinking then, as now, how frail Marilyn McCoo looked up on stage ... but boy, she could sure still belt out their hits!)

Lots of great press for the new CD ... in fact, you'll find all kinds of 5-Star Reviews up on Amazon right now ...

Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. - Blackbird: Lennon-McCartney Icons - Music

Looking back at my 2016 concert review, I guess I wasn't quite as enthralled as I remembered.  Oddly enough, one of the things I took offense to was their eleven song Beatles medley, which eventually became the basis for their well-received "Blackbird" CD.  (I remember thinking that during the course of their two hour show they performed more Beatles songs than they did from their own impressive hits catalog ... which, by the way, is also included in this link.)

I have ALWAYS loved Marilyn McCoo's voice ... SO many great tracks.  Glad we finally had the chance to see them.  (Several years before we had seen the three other original members of the group, still performing as The Fifth Dimension, at the Lisle Eyes To The Skies Festival, a great night of music that also featured Ronnie Rice as the opening act and Felix Cavaliere's Rascals as the headliners.)  But if you wanna hear the hits, you wanna hear them performed by these two ... and the incredible and distinctly unique voice of Marilyn McCoo. 

Forgotten Hits: Search results for marilyn mccoo and billy davis (